Juventus beat AC Milan today in a closer game than expected, returning to their rightful spot at the top of the Scudetto while their once-upon-a-time rivals returned to their midtable mediocrity, just four points off the drop zone.
The biggest storyline from the game was Cristiano Ronaldo coming off in the second half, albeit reluctantly as Maurizio Sarri yanked him again with knee injury concerns. Speaking after the game, the manager said -
“We must thank Ronaldo, because he made a sacrifice to be there at all tonight in a difficult situation. He did everything possible to play, but I saw he was not well and thought it best to take him off.
“It’s only natural a player is going to be irritated to leave the pitch, especially when he worked so hard to be there. Over the last month, he has had this little knee problem, he had a knock in training and it hurt the collateral ligament. When he trains at high intensity or plays, it unbalances him, so he ends up overcompensating and it damages the calf and thigh muscles.
“It is affecting his performances and he is not at his best at the moment. All players who are trying to give their best will have at least five minutes of being annoyed when they are substituted, but a coach would in general be much more worried if he didn’t seem upset.”
It was another narrow win for Juve, something that’s become a bit of a trend this season.
“I liked the spirit of the team, but we have to improve immensely in terms of quality, as we made too many mistakes, gave the ball away cheaply and opened up spaces for Milan. The hunger and determination to win is what kept us going.
“Milan had shots on goal, but they were almost all efforts from outside the penalty area. They have impressive passing quality, played clearly above their average performance level of this season and have strong technique.”
Gonzalo Higuain picked up another assist after getting a helper on Douglas Costa’s winner midweek too.
“Higuain isn’t scoring as much as he did in the past, but he is working hard to help the defence, combines better with his teammates and is always ready for the assist.”
Paulo Dybala also spoke to the media after potting the winning goal late on.
“I think it was important for everyone to win, regardless of who scored. It wasn’t our best performance, but we have to win by any means for our primary objective, which is the Scudetto.
“Milan have not started well this season, but they are still Milan. It’s a great team with quality players who can cause problems and Szczesny did really well today.
“Nobody expects me to score with my right foot! That’s where the ball landed and I had to take it with my right, fortunately it went well.
“It might look now as if either Inter or Juventus will win the Scudetto, but there’s a long way to go yet.”